The nature of emotional challenges

July 30, 2015 by Joshua
in Awareness, Perception

People expect challenges to be like physical. They take on a long project that might make them lonely, anxious, or some emotion they don’t like. When they think about it now, they think they’ll just take a deep breath and power on.

First of all, they underestimate the intensity emotions can have.

More important, though, is that they don’t realize what emotional challenges feel like. They can be incredibly hard to overcome or even face. Most people shy away and never face them. They sense that trying something—ask for a raise, start a company, ask out someone they find cute, etc—risks them feeling an emotion they don’t want to, so they shy away from even trying. They learn to feel good not trying and feeling bad trying, which motivates not trying, which leads to a risk-free, reward-free life of denial and physical comfort.

Most who try things that create emotions they don’t like then give up. They don’t realize that feeling different emotions changes your values. They thought facing discouraging emotions like lifting a heavier weight, you just have to try harder. It’s more like feeling discouraged, anxious, or whatever makes you not want to do something, like not doing it becomes good and doing it becomes bad. You can’t just take a deep breath and do something your emotional system has told you that you don’t want anymore.

You may the next day regret giving up so easily, but you didn’t give up. You didn’t notice how your values changed in a way you would regret and you never learned how to overcome that value shift.

Over and over I see people unaware of how their minds work give up on something they can do, but don’t know how to motivate themselves. It’s so challenging and invisible if you don’t know what to look for that I call it insidious. I’ve found the most effective way to overcome this giving up is to practice the skills of overcoming your challenges on a small scale and build to bigger things. Joel Runyon’s Cold Shower Therapy is an example. He described how similarly his feelings at trying to take a cold shower resembled his feelings trying to start a company. Overcoming avoidance in the simpler area enabled him to apply them in the rest of his life.

I also find the awareness of my Model helps, or your equivalent if something raises your awareness better for you.

Learning to handle them opens worlds of calm and comfort, and enables huge achievement.

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